ST. PAUL, Minn. — Jon Lurie is alive to enjoy Christmas with his son, thanks to some quick thinking by those around him.
Lurie was checking in at the Leonard Center, a workout facility on the campus of Macalester College, with his 11-year-old son Malcolm, when it started.
“I felt a sudden, total dizziness,” Lurie recalled. “I felt like I was going into shock. I tried to lie down and prop my feet up, but I passed out.”
Lurie suffered from sudden cardiac death, a condition where the heart simply stops. Typically, victims die within eight to 10 minutes. But he was in the right place, at the right time.
Kim Chandler, the athletic director at Macalester and a 1983 graduate of Fredericktown High School, saw what was happening. She and building manager Soren Nelson grabbed the facility’s AED (automated external defibrillator) and immediately used it to shock Lurie’s heart back to a normal state.
“He had turned blue,” Chandler recalled, “and he had stopped breathing.”
Chandler’s mom, Theresa, works at IMESCO in Fredericktown.
“The next thing I remember, I was in the ambulance,” Lurie said. “My son was with me. He was pretty shaken. I think I was more surprised to see him than he was to see me, though, because apparently I had been responding, but I don’t remember any of it.”
Doctors at the University of Minnesota hospital say that, had Chandler and Nelson not used an AED, Lurie would have almost certainly died.
“I’ve always led a healthy lifestyle,” Lurie said. “I’ve been a vegetarian for most of my life. I exercise frequently. I had no idea why this was happening.”
Then doctors diagnosed Lurie with an extremely rare heart disease in which granulomas –– small tumors –– grow on the heart wall. These granulomas can disrupt the electrical impulses of the heart. Fewer than 1,000 cases have ever been diagnosed.
Now Lurie has a pacemaker to control his disease. But there is no cure for what he has.